As the architect of a brand-new lacrosse program at East Carolina last season, Amanda Barnes Moore was far more than just a coach.
As Moore describes it, in 2018 she and her two assistants were “captains, upperclassmen, moms and coaches.”
This year, with a slate of fifteen sophomores and two freshmen serving as leaders and guides for the newcomers, Moore and her staff can narrow their focus to their actual job description — coach.
“We get to do a lot more coaching this year, and a lot less managing day to day small things, like ‘Hey, did you set up the field? Are the balls on the bus?’” said Moore, known to Pirate fans as Amanda Barnes before her marriage last summer to Jonathan Moore. “Our ability to get into things a lot quicker, just scheme-wise, skill-wise, they are so much faster, easier to adapt than last year when everything was new for everyone and every experience was new.”
“This year we have returners to help manage that,” Moore said.
Returners like sophomore midfielder Brittany Borchers, who has embraced the opportunity to help instill the culture that she and her inaugural lacrosse teammates started to establish last season.
The coaches have encouraged the returning players to define how the team wants to be known on the field, regarded by professors and fellow students on campus and seen in the community.
“We want to be a heart and hustle team; we don’t want anyone to outhustle us,” Borchers said of the Pirates’ developing culture. “A lot of teams, they’re like, ‘Oh, they’re new. They’re not going to come out hard. But I think something that we take a lot of pride in, as an attacker, is that we ride really hard.”
For evidence that experience is helping things click in ECU’s second season, look no further than the team’s 2-0 opening weekend—victories over Winthrop and Gardner-Webb. With so much time spent on fundamentals last season, Borchers said the Pirates came out solid on stick skills and other basics, making room for a better awareness of the nuances of their game plan.
“Just out of the gates, our first two games of the season, we showed maturity in our offensive and defensive sets, winning a one-goal game,” Moore said of the 13-12 win over Winthrop in the season opener. “I don’t think that we would have been in that situation last year, from a maturity standpoint. I think we would have had to call a few more timeouts in the critical moment, whereas this year we had some leadership on the field that knew how to manage that situation.”
From that opening homestand, the Pirates traveled to Chapel Hill on Sunday to take on the No. 2 team in the nation — Moore’s way to show her team what it will take to compete at the highest level. Even though they fell to the Tar Heels 21-3, the game was a key building block as they ramp up for a 17-game schedule that also includes matchups with Vanderbilt, Florida and Duke. (For women’s lacrosse, Florida and Vanderbilt compete in the American, along with regular conference members ECU, Temple, Connecticut, and Cincinnati.)
One of the newcomers who is learning from older teammates and finding a way to contribute immediately is Camryn Pennypacker, a freshman midfielder from Mullica, NJ, who notched two goals and two draw controls against Gardner-Webb. During the recruiting process, Pennypacker was drawn not just to the novelty of the program, but to the potential she saw in Greenville.
“Because it was a new program that really caught my eye, I think, and then I saw the coaching staff and their experience and where they come from and I just thought that this program could really go somewhere and do big things,” she said.